Friday, July 1, 2011

What is freedom?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”i

“…for the only person who is truly free (“ben horin”) is one who occupies himself with Torah study…”ii

i. Thomas Jefferson (primarily), “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States
of America” (Philadelphia, 1776). Available at:

ii. Avot 6:2, translated by Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in The Koren Siddur (Jerusalem: Koren Publishers, 2009), pp. 676-677.

 As we head into this weekend of U.S. Independence Day, I thought it would be worthwhile to share this essay by Cheshy Kopel from YU's Kol Hamevaser on similarities and differences between the American concept of liberty and the Jewish value of herut:

In Search of Liberty: An Important Interaction of Hazal's Values and Mankind's Unalienable Rights

Have a good weekend!

No comments: